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Ann Bot. 2006 Feb;97(2):205-16. Epub 2005 Dec 15.

Comparative analysis of rDNA distribution in chromosomes of various species of Brassicaceae.

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Department of Plant Anatomy and Cytology, University of Silesia, Jagiellonska 28, 40-032 Katowice, Poland.



The Brassicaceae family encompasses numerous species of great agronomic importance, belonging to such genera, as Brassica, Raphanus, Sinapis and Armoracia. Many of them are characterized by extensive intraspecific diversity of phenotypes. The present study focuses on the polymorphism of number, appearance and chromosomal localization of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sites and, when possible, in relation to polyploidy, in 42 accessions of Brassica species and ten accessions of Diplotaxis, Eruca, Raphanus and Sinapis species.


Chromosomal localization of ribosomal DNA was carried out using dual colour fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with 5S rDNA and 25S rDNA sequences as probes on enzymatically digested root-tip meristematic cells.


Loci for 5S and 18S-5.8S-25S rDNA were determined for the first time in six taxa, and previously unreported rDNA constellations were described in an additional 12 accessions. FISH revealed frequent polymorphism in number, appearance and chromosomal localization of both 5S and 25S rDNA sites. This phenomenon was most commonly observed in the A genome of Brassica, where it involves exclusively pericentromeric sites of 5S and 25S rRNA genes. The intraspecific polymorphism was between subspecies/varieties or within a variety or cultivar (i.e. interindividual).


The number of rDNA sites can differ up to 5-fold in species with the same chromosome number. In addition to the eight previously reported chromosomal types with ribosomal genes, three new variant types are described. The extent of polymorphism is genome dependent. Comparing the A, B and C genomes revealed the highest rDNA polymorphism in the A genome. The loci carrying presumably inactive ribosomal RNA genes are particularly prone to polymorphism. It can also be concluded that there is no obvious polyploidization-related tendency to reduce the number of ribosomal DNA loci in the allotetraploid species, when compared with their putative diploid progenitors. The observed differences are rather caused by the prevailing polymorphism within the diploids and allotetraploids. This would make it difficult to predict expected numbers of rDNA loci in natural polyploids.

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